These are definitely treats for a long holiday weekend. They violate my usual code of fast, easy, and few dishes. They were none of the above. But because Jenn specifically asked for a coffee cake-like treat, how could I say, "Nah. Too much of a bother."? She makes very few culinary requests. Luckily they turned out great and thus, blog-worthy on the first try.
They are very moist, probably because I went ahead and used a full stick of butter rather than cutting it in half and adding applesauce. The butter was probably also the reason they didn't stick to the muffin papers. So, once in awhile, maybe it's okay to stress the "happy" and "gluten-free" part of Happy Healthy Gluten-free and know that "healthy" is found both in eating these in moderation and at your next meal in the form of a nice salad or plate of greens.
These muffins DO have two advantages: 1) because they are muffins, the portion control is built right in, and 2) they have the benefit of Xocai healthy dark chocolate which boosts your antioxidant intake and adds a nice sophistication, making them a little less than over-the-top sweet.
The creation of these muffins has a number of steps, and my younger son Scott had a great time helping out. He measured, mixed, scooped batter into the muffin tins, unwrapped and inserted the chocolate squares, spread and patted down the topping, and more. So though they weren't particularly fast to make, it was good quality time in the kitchen.
For the cake part:
1 3/4 gluten-free flour blend (I used Arrowhead Mills, which has xanthan gum built in. If your favorite gf flour blend does not, add 1 ¼ teaspoons of it for this recipe.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk (or the milk-like product of your choice)
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick of melted butter
12 Xocai Power Squares or other dark chocolate squares
For the topping:
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Cocoa Powder
Preheat the oven to 350. Thoroughly combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside. Combine the milk, sugar, butter and eggs in a big bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the milk-sugar-eggs and mix well. Spoon the rather sticky batter into a lined muffin tin. Worry that it may be too dry. Insert the chocolate squares upright in the middle of the muffin batter.
For the topping, combine the flour, sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and combine it with the dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers (I used my fingers) to mix until course and crumbly. Spread it evenly over the muffins and pat them down a little. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted (but not in the middle of the chocolate stripe) comes out clean. Eat them warm! Though room temperature was good too. We froze some of them to keep us from devouring the whole pan in one day. Keep your face over your plate. Oh wait, that's what I say to Scott.
I tend to do variations on my culinary creations, so if this looks kinda familiar, it's because I'm borrowing and altering from my own recipes. These bars have no added sugar, and I reduced the fat by using powdered peanut butter and some actual chopped peanuts, rather than getting out the jar of Jif. I hid some Xocai healthy dark chocolate power squares within for an added boost. You could use other chocolate squares, but you owe it to yourself to try Xocai
!) Banana Peanut Chocolate Oat Bars
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats (I use Trader Joes)2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter (I like a brand called JustGreatStuff and I found it recently at my local supermarket in the health food section. There's another brand out there that's good too, called PB2)
2 tablespoons chopped roasted lightly salted peanuts
9 Xocai Power Squares
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 6" X 9" baking pan with non-stick parchment paper. Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate and mix well. Pour half of the mixture into the pan. Arrange the 9 chocolate squares so that you'll get one square per serving. Spread the remaining oat mixture over the top.
Bake for 22 - 27 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Let cool and cut into 9 bars. Great for a quick pre-fab breakfast or on-the-go snack!
Here's the middle layer with the chocolate squares before the top layer was added
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We had such great success at our holiday gf meetup cookie swap that we thought we attempt a springtime reprise with a baked goods potluck brunch. I had a hankering for strawberries, and I’m very into dark chocolate, so I created some muffins to share with the group. The ones I shared with my friends were pretty mild-mannered, but two muffins that didn’t make the lineup for the potluck were my (very successful) trial of adding A LOT of chocolate to them. I call them Strawberry Chocolate Bomb Muffins. My partner Jenn reports that eating them is like having fudge without having to go to one of those touristy places that make you watch them spread it on a slab of marble. If you wanted to make these muffins and were stranded on a desert island and had to forego the chocolate, you could, but you’d be sad and you’d have to change the name. Strawberry Chocolate Bomb Muffins
1 ¾ cups all purpose gluten-free baking mix (I used Arrowhead Mills, which contains xanthan gum. If you use a blend that doesn’t include xanthan gum, I’d advise 1 ¼ teaspoons of it for this recipe.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk (or the milk-like product of your choice)
½ cup sugar
½ stick of melted butter
¼ cup vanilla yogurt (if you don’t have this, you can double the butter and add an additional ¼ cup sugar)
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, cut into smallish chunks
18 Xocai Dark Chocolate Nuggets (or do a mix of some with chocolate, some without)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside. In a bowl, mix together the milk, sugar, butter, yogurt and eggs. Fold in the strawberries. Add the flour blend a bit at a time and stir until moistened. Pour batter into lined muffin tins 2/3rds full. Push an unwrapped nugget into the middle of the chosen muffins. It’s okay if it
doesn’t get completely covered with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake part comes out clean. Let cool enough for the molten lava chocolate to not scald you – maybe ½ an hour or more. Makes 18 muffins.
For you Philadelphians interested in learning more about the gluten-free diet, register for the Mt Airy Learning Tree Class Why and How to Go Gluten-Free
. I am leading the workshop, which will be held at Food For All Market and Café
, and in addition to some delicious samples of their gluten-free fare, I'm including my ebooks Gluten Free: Practical Advice for a Happy, Healthy Gluten-Free Life
and So What CAN You Eat? Gluten-Free Paleo Vegan (mostly) Recipes for Health and Weight Loss
(which I will have printed out for your benefit, of course!)
Here's the course description:
Do you feel lousy and don't know why? Have doctors not been able to figure out what's wrong? Have you recently been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance? Do you wonder if going gluten-free can help you lose weight? Do you want to know what all the buzz is about? During this fun and interactive hour and a half session, you'll get facts and practical tips for eating gluten-free safely and well.
Tuesday, May 7th, 6:30 - 8 pm
Food For All, 7127 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19119
$20 for the class, $5 Materials fee REGISTRATION THROUGH MT. AIRY LEARNING TREE IS REQUIRED
I hope to see you there!
My sister-in-law Kim told me about cauliflower crust pizza awhile ago, but I just hadn't gotten around to trying it. I did look it up on the internet, and I noticed that a number of examples shown in photos had quite crispy edges. I must confess that I've had one too many gluten-free pizza crusts that were a bit burned around the outside, and I don't particularly like the carbonara flavor. I decided to try something crazy and make little tartlets in a muffin tin using foil liners so that they could be a bit better contained and maybe reduce the likelihood of becoming too crispy. I'm also in the middle of reading Joel Fuhrman's book Super Immunity
, in which seeds get lifted up as a must-have in any super-high nutrient diet. I had picked up some roasted pepitas earlier in the day, and I decided that grinding
them and adding them to the crust would provide some healthy fat and let me reduce the amount of cheese in the crust.
Success! These little babies are delicious! I could even have used less cheese, and they would have been fine. The crust was a little puffy and nicely crustly, with no burnt edges. I had several for dinner, but these would be pretty fun as a party food too. You can't really tell from the picture because of the cheese, but two of them have mushrooms, one of them has mushrooms and tomatoes, and two are just plain cheese. I liked every combination.
Ingredients:1 cup grated cauliflower
(I used a cheese grater, and it went pretty fast)1 egg2 tablespoons roasted salted pepitas
, ground (I ground them in my coffee grinder. If you don't have this around, double the cheese in the crust to 1/2 cup)1/4 cup cheese for crust, plus ~1/4 more for topping1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
(I used this because we were out of dried basil and the oregano was at the back of the cabinet, but you should use whatever pizza seasoning you like)~1/4 cup pizza sauce
(I used jarred sauce from the pantry)Pizza toppings
(I had fresh mushrooms and some grape tomatoes on hand, and Joel Fuhrman likes them too)Directions:Preheat oven to 450. Line a muffin tin with 6 foil muffin cups and spray them with non-stick cooking spray. Grate enough cauliflower to have a cup of it (around half a head). Put it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for 4 minutes. (Almost everyone else on the interwebs says to nuke it for 8, but that's WAY TOO LONG in our microwave. I also saw a recipe that didn't microwave the cauliflower at all, so I split the difference and went with 4 minutes.) Let it cool for a couple of minutes so that when you add the cheese and egg it doesn't get weird. Stir in the ground
pepitas, cheese, herbs, and egg and combine thoroughly. Divide evenly among the 6 muffin cups until it's evenly divided.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the crusts are a little puffy and starting to brown on the edges (but not too brown!). Remove from the oven, turn the oven up to broil, and while it's heating, top your crusts with a spoonful of sauce, toppings and cheese. Put under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly.Remove. Let cool for a couple minutes to let the cheese set up, then pop the tarts out of the foil cups. Enjoy!
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ways on the quest for tasty and in the realm of healthy, my friend Wendy gave me the inspiration for these muffins. We had a good time thinking up possible crazy names for these babies, including something that roughly translated to Sock Bombs, but in the end I decided that Sock Bombs would never show up on an internet search for healthy-ish gluten-free muffins. :-)
- 2 1/2 cups Gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
- 3 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup soft butter
- 1/4 cup natural applesauce
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 Xocai dark chocolate Power Square
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients. Place milk, eggs, butter, cranberries and banana in a blender and mix until combined. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter. Slide a Xocai Power Square vertically in the muffin batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Eat and enjoy!
First, a TMI warning: One cannot talk about a woman's weight-loss journey and chocolate consumption without also talking about hormones, cramps, periods and the like. Does anyone else want to yell at the screen when women contestants have a bad week at the ranch on Biggest Loser? Why is everyone baffled that every four weeks or so the women contestants under 50 show some inexplicably puny weight loss, or heaven forbid, a weight gain? Maybe they will have me on as a guest expert to slowly and patiently explain that our bodies simply turn on us at regular intervals to make us retain, bloat, ache, crave and crabify. Yes, crabify.
With that preamble, perhaps I DON'T need to explain that I'm not surprised that I didn't lose any weight this week. I DID continue to enjoy an increase in my energy level and general level of optimism, dispite the afore-not-mentioned circumstances. Since I've only lived in my own body, I don't know if my experience is the same as other women's, but the week before my period starts is usually not that uncomfortable (no cramps yet), but the hardest to get motivated to exercise. This week on dark chocolate, by contrast, I've worked out four times since Sunday and felt good doing it.
Usually a few days after my period ends I notice a remarkable reversal of period-related bloating, etc. I look forward to getting on the scale in a week and having some good news to report. [As an aside, my heavy periods coupled with years of undiagnosed celiac disease are the current working theory as to why I continue to have anemia issues. My period really does take a lot out of me.]
In the meantime, I created a new recipe that is not too bad for me and totally fitting for this time of the month. I call it...
Gluten-free Mocha Banana Oat Squares
I had originally planned to just modify my peanut butter banana oat squares, but by the time I was done I had changed it enough to warrant its own thing. I forgot the peanut butter, added coffee, used an egg instead of flaxseed... you see what I mean. It came out really tasty and fit for breakfast.
1½ cups gluten-free 15-minutes-to-cook oats (I use Trader Joe's)
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup coffee
1 banana, mashed
1/8 cup chocolate protein powder (I'm using Xocai)
1/8 teaspoon (or less) salt
30 grams of dark chocolate broken up in chunks (I used 3 xobiotic squares, but you could use 1/8 cup(ish) of chocolate chips)
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the egg, coffee and mashed banana. Mix in the rest of the ingredients until everything is moist. Line a 6"x9" baking pan (or some other pan that's on the small size - 8"X8" would probably work) with parchment paper or lightly grease the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the oat mixture into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly brown on the edges. Lift the food out of the pan by its parchment paper and let it cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars and enjoy!
Makes 12 squares.
I've just completed my first week with a dark chocolate protein shake breakfast, replacing my former non-chocolate protein shake. I've also eaten 2 little squares of dark chocolate a day, one around 3:00 pm and the other after dinner. It's too early to be sure if this will be a long-term sustainable strategy, but the first week's results are encouraging. I'm down two pounds and my pants are a little roomier. It could be solely because of my increased attention to diet in general - sort of a placebo effect. Still, it's nice to see movement in the right direction.
The other encouraging indicator is my energy level. With the exception of last Tuesday (following a Monday dinner that included a couple of slices of bread), I've been feeling really amazing. This is notable because I generally just feel pretty good. It was almost like a light switch being thrown. Again, I can't be completely certain it's the chocolate, but that's the main thing I'm doing differently.
Given these early successes, the research will continue!
Healthy Choco-PB Dip
I created this single-serving dessert which is totally guilt-free. It combines healthy dark chocolate with powdered peanut butter, inspired by my friend Robin's "dip strawberries in dark chocolate" idea and my friend Lisa's recent enthusiasm for powdered peanut butter, which has only 22 calories per tablespoon and 85% less fat than regular peanut butter. This choco-PB dipping sauce has only 55 calories, plus the caloric value of the fruit you are dipping into it. Nice.
1 6-gram square of dark chocolate (I used a Xocai Power Square)
1 teaspoon of powdered peanut butter (I used Just Great Stuff Organic)
1 1/2 teaspoons hot water
Put the chocolate in a microwave safe dish and heat it until soft but not hot. Boil some water for tea. (You'll want a hot drink to go with dessert, right?) Add the peanut butter powder to the chocolate and pour the hot water over the top of both. Stir until combined. It will be the consistency of brownie batter (less water for thicker, more water for thinner.) Dip your cut up fruit chunks -- banana, apples, pineapple, berries -- in the choco-PB sauce and eat up! Lick the dish when you think no one is looking. Show restraint and don't go make a second one. Console yourself with the knowledge that you will be able to do this again tomorrow.
I was in the mood for something sweet but healthy. I had some bananas reaching their golden years. I was still in my pajamas and wanted to make whatever it would be from ingredients on hand. And I thought I'd go for a vegan option. Voila! Peanut Butter Banana Oat Bars!
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cup gluten-free oats (the kind that take 10-20 minutes to cook. I use Trader Joe's Rolled Oats)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
4 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the water and the flaxseed in a small dish and let sit for a few minutes (If you don't want to do vegan, beat an egg instead.) Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and stir until well mixed. Line a 6"x9" baking pan (or some other pan that's on the small size - 8"X8" would probably work) with parchment paper (we've become big fans of the parchment paper lately -- no stick, less oil) or lightly grease the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the oat mixture into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, untill lightly brown on the edges. Lift the food out of the pan by its parchment paper and let it cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars and enjoy!
Makes 12 squares.
Alterations that might be fun:
Substitue in a different kind of nut or seed butter, or use chunky peanut butter, or add ground nuts
Add in a half a cup of chocolate, butterscotch or vanilla chips. Not as healthy, but really tasty, I bet!
Adding greens to smoothies is, as I'm sure you've heard already, a great way to increase your consumption of those health miracle greens. I drink a green smoothie just about every morning. One version I invented is savory and uses spicy V8 juice. I like berries immensely and they make a delicious and refreshing drink. I've done a bit of experimenting with random ingredients (not a big fan of raw beets or romaine lettuce in my blender breakfast, by the way.) In my opinion, to make a tasty smoothie, you need something frozen and something with a little fat in it to make it creamy. Avocado or nuts can be good creamy ingredient for savory shakes. Banana is great for sweet ones. Until yesterday, I had never used peaches. I'm so glad a bag of the frozen beauties snuck their way into my freezer! I'm happy to share this recipe with you.
This recipe comes with three warnings:
1) If you've never used kale in a smoothie, substitute spinach instead. Kale is very good for you, but I have to admit the first time I put it in a smoothie I likened the experience to glurping down grass clippings. Yes, glurping. No lie. Spinach is also quite healthy and it liquifies in the blender. Kale just gets littler and littler. I recommend easing into the green smoothie experience with spinach, a more blender-friendly green.
2) If you have never used protein powder before, don't start with this recipe. I mean, you can, but I'd hate for you to decide that my green smoothies have a gritty or chalky taste as a function of their greenness. I started using a protein powder about a year ago to boost my, well, protein. Duh, right? I read somewhere about balance between the macronutrients of protein, carbs and fats and decided as a nearly vegan vegetarian that I could use some more grams of protein. After trying probably half a dozen varieties, I have decided I like the unflavored Garden of Life Raw Protein powder. I prefer it because it does not have artificial sweeteners or added sugar (which means I can put it in sweet and savory smoothies), it doesn't contain dairy, it has 17 grams of protein per serving, and it is of course gluten-free. It's also loaded with other good stuff that I liken to taking a nutritional supplement. Those good points don't change the inherent nature that makes protein powder a rather distinctive and to many, unpleasant, beverage additive. I think the taste is tolerable and the health benefits trump my tastebuds. You can easily leave it out of this recipe.
3) I do not really measure my smoothie ingredients. I usually make them early in the morning. I throw ingredients at the blender and see what happens. Quantities below are estimates. Please don't get mad if it's a little off. Always adjust to your own tastes. Start with less greens if they make you nervous. Use more almond milk if you prefer a thinner beverage. Experimenting can be fun. Let me know what you came up with!
1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
1 cup frozen kale
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1 medium banana
1 teaspoon of toasted flaxseeds (the ones from Trader Joe's are delicious!)
1 scoop of protein powder
Pour the almond milk and kale into the blender. Pulse and blend on high until it's a liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients a little at a time, blending after each addition. Once everything is in the blender and moving, keep blending for a 90 seconds or 2 minutes (this will feel like forever, especially if you are blending in the pre-dawn hours and everyone else in your house is still sleeping.)
Pour the contents into a glass. Drink it through a straw. Feel very satisfied and secretly nutritionally morally superior to people eating Corn Chex. Take a picture and post it on Facebook.